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How to keep your houseplants happy when it’s cold and dark

How to keep your houseplants happy when it’s cold and dark

Lots of us went a little houseplant crazy during the pandemic lockdowns in an attempt to cheer up our home’s interiors with vibrant greenery.

But in winter, with the windows mainly closed and central heating up, it’s easy to accidentally cause damage to our plants.

Why houseplants need extra care in winter

Lower temperatures and light levels and changes in humidity can affect houseplants during the colder months.

In particular, you need to pay close attention to watering and getting the temperature right in the parts of your home you’ve placed them.

Our top tips for keeping houseplants looking vibrant in winter:

  1. Watch out for sudden temperature changes, especially if you set the central heating so it goes from zero to full-on a couple of times a day.
    Big temperature swings can cause leaves to drop or go brown at the edges, so don’t place houseplants too close to heat sources. One common mistake is to put them on shelves above radiators! Likewise, avoid draughty areas or cold corners of attics or conservatories.
  1. Cut back on watering by around 50% as houseplants don’t need as much in the winter months – partly as they grow much less, and also because central heating makes the air drier.
    Only water your plants if you can feel that the soil is dry a couple of inches below the surface.
  1. Boost the air humidity around your houseplants to offset the drier air – place them in kitchens or bathrooms where there’s usually more moisture. You can also put pots on trays over wet pebbles or grit as this releases moisture during evaporation.
  2. Let the light in and your houseplants will thank you for it. Apart from mosses and ferns, most don’t really like shorter, darker days, so place yours in areas with as much light as possible.
    You can also buy LED ‘grow lights’ that, unlike standard lightbulbs, provide the right sort of light and are recommended by organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society.
  1. Put them on a diet! As your houseplants won’t grow much in winter, make sure you reduce their plant feed intake. Just like with humans, overfeeding can lead to unhealthy plants!
  2. As winter recedes and spring gets underway, it’s a joy to see houseplants start growing strongly again. You can boost the growth and keep them as healthy as possible by repotting in late March – but don’t worry, it’s a messy task, and isn’t vital unless the soil looks tired and shows signs of mould or infestation.
  3. One note of caution – watch out for damaged, cracked pots! It’s easy to water your houseplants throughout the winter without realising the old pots they’re in are slowly leaking and damaging woodwork and flooring.

Enjoy your lovely green jungle!

By following these green-fingered maintenance tips you’ll hopefully have happy houseplants throughout the winter that will help purify the air and make your home a more peaceful environment to be in.